At the beginning of the school year, I look for kids that I am used to seeing in the hallway. It's weird-but they aren't there. They've graduated now and are out in the real world carving their own path. I miss them, selfishly, but realize my students are moving on to bigger and better things.
A honest teacher will admit to having favorite students. We don't "play" favorites or give any of our students an unfair advantage, but some kids are just different than others. Those are the kids I really miss seeing in the hallway and in my room after school.
Bri passed away yesterday after a head-on collision with a drunk driver. Just 30 hours ago, she was hanging with her friends after another taxing week of balancing work and school. She had lofty goals and her life in the present reflected the determination she had to achieve them. The last time I saw Bri, she was standing in the pouring rain waiting for a bus that would bring her to school. Nothing could stop her. The last time we texted, my phone's screen was filled with exclamation points of her excitement when she found out my wife and I were pregnant. She was that kind of kid. Bri was selfless-she cared for others more than she cared for herself. I'm so proud of who she was and what she had accomplished, but moreover, what she had overcome.
Its a story that will send chills through your body and shake your soul to its core. How can we possibly have enough faith to understand why this happened?
Faith can be maddening. A friend of mine described faith as "something that comes from your own quiet time, from conversations with friends and loved ones, from your own observations of how life unfolds and what you perceive when you look beyond the externals of life and penetrate to the depths of love, and friendship--the beauty of nature, the marvels of human ingenuity, the magnificence of a simple daisy and the faces of the homeless guys who hit you up for a buck in downtown Chicago."
As Bri's teacher, I know and have faith that my lessons with her are over. Not because shes gone now, but because now, Bri is teaching me. She never knew it, but she has been teaching me for a long time.
I will see you in the halls and I will see you in your desk. I will see you in your friends, who are better people because of you. I will see you on the basketball floor and at the bus stop in the pouring rain. But most of all, I will see you in the faces of students who need my help, and in the students, who like you, taught me more than I could ever teach you…